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SpaceX Dragon returns year-in-space samples

SpaceX splashdown
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule descends toward the Pacific at the end of its parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

A month after delivering an expandable prototype habitat and other goodies to the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean today  with tons of equipment and scientific samples.

Among the roughly 3,700 pounds of cargo are freezers containing blood, saliva, urine and stool samples from astronaut Scott Kelly, who served as an experimental subject during a nearly yearlong stint on the station. Those samples will be studied to see how long-term spaceflight affected Kelly’s metabolic functions, including the function of the gut bacteria in his bowels.

The results could affect how NASA plans for even longer journeys to Mars and other deep-space destinations.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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